Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TOP STORY >> Crews ready to help

Leader senior staff writer

With about eight million people in the dark along the eastern seaboard, across Pennsylvania and into Ohio, and literally in the wake of Super Storm Sandy, Arkansans stand ready to respond when called.

Entergy has sent about 850 scouts, linemen and support workers, according to spokesman Michael Burns, many of them from Arkansas.

The 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base has an undisclosed number of crews and C-130s on standby in case they are needed in support of the relief effort, according to public information officer Arlo Taylor. Moving relief supplies and people are among the primary uses of the C-130s.

“We’ve had no requests for National Guard help,” said Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management sent four staff members to Albany, N.Y., to help with response coordination at the New York command center, DeCample said.

CenturyLink phone crews and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives repairmen are also on the way.

Entergy started sending crews from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas late last week. With a round of reinforcements that left Tuesday, 231 Arkansas employees and contractors and equipment are now dedicated to restoring power, according to Entergy spokesman Michael Burns.

“We’re committed to be there for our fellow electricity providers in the Northeast, just as other companies came to help us when Hurricane Isaac slammed the Gulf Coast in August,” said Greg Grillo, who coordinates Entergy’s storm response.

“We have a well-practiced, well-used system of mutual support, and it’s absolutely essential to restore power following widespread damage (Sandy caused),” he added.

“They include scouts, who assess damage when safe to do so after the storm, and tool workers who will help rebuild the electrical system,” Grillo said.

First Electric Cooperative in Jacksonville has released three of its contractors to go work in the affected area, according to spokeswoman Tori Moss and stands ready to provide help if asked to electric cooperatives there.

While it is certain that AT&T prepared to deal with large-scale disruptions in phone, cell phone and Internet Service, no spokesman could be found to comment or to say what contribution Arkansas and central Arkansas AT&T employees might make.

The storm has had some effect on air travel here.

Nationally, thousands of flights have been cancelled in the past couple of days, but in Little Rock, only seven flights from Bill and Hillary National Airport were cancelled Mon-day, with another five by midday Tuesday, according to Shane Carter, airport spokesman.

Those flights were to or from Baltimore and Washington.

Carter said the airport originates about 120 flights on an average day, none to New York or New Jersey.

He said there had been a higher than usual number of delayed flights, a ripple effect of the storm.